Just like most artisan-crafted products, jewelry design and fabrication is a highly specialized form of functional art.
In order to become a buyer that makes confident decisions based not only on the beauty of the design, but also the quality of the product, is paramount. The quality of the product will determine the retailers reputation (by association with the artist), how well that product continues to sell and most important, the retention of happy customers.
Key Points for Buying a Quality Product
Know the Artist - do your due diligence; research the background history and story of the artist selling you the product. Check out their website and look at the About page which should tell you their skill set, years of experience in designing, and how long they've been in business. Look at other sources also if possible such as a list of other retailers they've worked with and contact those stores.
Guarantees - find out if they guarantee their products, and either way what their return policy is on broken or faulty items. A good designer will be open and gracious about taking items back that may have faulty items, and should not be offended if that happens. There are always a small percentage of situations beyond the designers control however the number should be very low - under 5% at most.
Know Price-Points - research what type of items you can obtain within your price point. If you are looking to purchase earrings wholesale for $5-10 handmade by a skilled artisan, you will not be receiving 14 kt gold earrings for that price. Swarovski crystals will be higher priced than just a Czech-crystal also. Freshwater pearls will cost more than glass pearls typically, with the exception of a poor grade pearl vs. Swarovski pearl, and then the Swarovski pearl will be worth more in that case.
Ask About the Components Quality - it is very important to know what metals and beads are being used in the pieces. Base metals such as brass are much less expensive than sterling silver or filled-precious metals.
OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS & CONSIDERATIONS
Spacers & Crystals (chips/cracks) - there should ALWAYS be metal or some type of bead spacer between crystals or pearls, or they will chip and crack over time from rubbing against each other.
Wire vs. (Nylon or Silk) Thread - a beaded necklace or bracelet that has a professional multi-strand stainless steel nylon coated wire (such as Beadalon 49-strand wire), will last indefinitely without having to be restrung, unlike a nylon thread which frays and has to be restrung every few years.
Oxidization/Tarnishing - Brass and other metals naturally oxidize from air, water and light. Either choose a metal that resists discoloration (such as stainless steel), clean periodically, or coat metal with clear nail polish or jewelers clear coat lacquer, or let the oxidation lend the piece a natural, aged look.
Metal Sensitivities - most metal-allergies/sensitivities are from nickel in the metal. Nickel can be in base metals, sterling silver or most any metal. Make sure the jeweler uses nickel-free and lead-free metals. Hypoallergenic metals can include platinum, 18k gold, titanium, copper, and stainless steel, fine silver and sterling silver.
Crimp Covers & Metal-Forming Consistency - 2 other tips that are useful to know when searching for professional quality jewelry is that beaded jewelry should always have Crimp Covers, little round beads which hide the folded over crimp beads, at the end of the wire near the clasp. Also look for symmetry and perfection if there are formed metal loops and hooks in the piece. Unless it's purposefully a modern-looking piece with asymmetry as a focal point, all of the hand-formed metal loops, rings and hooks in the piece should be near-perfect round and similar in size.
Packaging - how professional is the packaging of the products. Does it come in a gift box, with a company card or care card, and certifications or guarantees that the customer can keep for future reference.
The Internet is a major resource that can help a Retailer in Product Research, just remember that information online is not always necessarily true, so find multiple sources for information if you are researching products online.
Tyler Cody Designs has been artisan-crafting romantic, vintage-style jewelry for over 20 years. With our jewelry sold in over 40 locations nationwide, we take great pride in the quality of our jewelry, based in Orange County, California. Visit our website at http://www.tylercody.com or our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/tylercodydesigns.